Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A referendum. It's complicated

We are now going to have a referendum on the EU. Now we all know Cameron is a lefty right winger (keep up I've only just started) so he's going for the YES vote and will, no doubt, use fear of change again which worked so spectacularly for him in both the Scottish thing and the General Election.

For him and his Tory pro-EU block (all of the Cabinet apparently) it's an easy run, or so they think. I mean nearly every job in the UK will be lost, nobody else wants to play with us, the EU is fabulous really and look a Greece; I know Greece is irrelevant but watch them use it.

Over in Labourville the problems are being chewed over by what's left of their front bench and "it's complicated" comes to mind.

In the Scottish Independence referendum Labour and the LibDems stood alongside the Tories and look where that got them. If Labour do the cross party thing this time (and get the Yes vote they want) will we see UKIP taking them to pieces in the north next time round? It seems that is the view from their tactical team, so they'll be staying clear of the Tories and running their own campaign.

UKIP of course have some considerable armoury. They won the European elections and got millions of votes (if only one seat) in the General Election. there will be many hoping the YES campaign wins the day and the backlash sees them with over 100 seats in 2020 - others don't see the need for a protracted fight and just want to spearhead the NO campaign.

But they have problems too.

The Tory back benches are crammed with MPs who want out but they are unlikely to stand shoulder to shoulder with UKIP. There are also Labour MPs who will emerge on the NO side and given their colourful rhetoric about UKIP that doesn't sound like a marriage made in heaven.

The difference with the NO campaign, however, is that it will be organised. Somebody under 50 (who couldn't vote last time round) will emerge as the mouthpiece and Carswell can drag both left and right into that scrum. UKIP will plough their own furrow no doubt but I believe Carswell will take the view that it's best to be anywhere where Farage is not.

The YES campaign will be fragmented, lacking direction and with differing messages coming from the right and left. That will be coupled with an array of 'concessions' that won't amount to a bag of beans and no matter how hard Cameron tries to play the fear card I'm not convinced the country will fall for it again.

The fears of the SNP ruling England were very real, the true nature of Red Ed's politics were also a concern and Cameron's "let's leave things as they are" message was persuasive. But will that really work with the EU?

We know the Mail and Sun will run stories every day in the run up about EU stupidity (there's a lot of it about) and I'm not even sure the Mirror will support staying in that enthusiastically - it's the paper of the working man after all and millions of them voted UKIP didn't they?

If, and it's a big if, the NO campaign can stay positive they will win. The problem of course is UKIP which runs a wholly negative campaign; ridiculing the EU, banging on about stupid laws, sovereignty and Britishness. It's all clap trap and not really part of the argument.

If the NO campaign focuses on immigration and trade, both in positive ways, they will get their message across. The lie that the UK will crumple, out in the world on its own, offends most British people, and the fact remains that the EU need us as a trading partner. If they want to close their borders to us then so be it, they'll have to do that to the USA and China as well.

And with no German or French cars to buy over here we'll all be choosing Nissan and Honda so that's just fine. That, of course, presumes that the current EU agreements on vehicle sales don't apply equally to us as they do to other countries.

In simple terms Cameron can get the (EU subsidised) CBI to bleat all he likes, he can bring big business into his camp, but the vast majority of voters will see through it.

And of course, by then he'll have most of the big banks saying they're off if we stay in the EU because of the banking regulations tightening.

Let's be clear, if we vote to stay in, the EU will then expect to roll us over into the grand EU project they are already planning. They are also planning to legislate to make any more such referenda illegal so this truly is a one time opportunity.

But with both campaigns potentially being a mess who knows what will happen. A huge character will emerge - like Ms Sturgeon did - but who that could be? Of course, if Boris decides he's in the NO camp it will be him and give him the shoe horn he needs into Number Ten. Some may say that's a good thing........

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a British politician, popular historian, and former journalist who has served as Mayor of London since 2008 and as Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015. He was born in 1964 and was too young to vote in the last EU referendum

No comments:

Post a Comment